Critical Eye: Wallop's Poundland 'exposé' lacked teeth
Secrets of Poundland (C4, 8pm, 17 September) pulled in Dispatches’ second-biggest audience on record. It just shows how obsessed the nation is with the price of groceries and how worried people are about being ripped off - which is exactly what many will think they are being after watching Harry crash bang Wallop through this ostensibly shocking, but ultimately self-undermining exposé of the marketing tactics deployed by the discounter.
Coming across all David Attenborough as he explored the Poundland ‘jungle’, Wallop focused on the brands, specifically on the value for money they offered. The answer was very little in many cases. Problem was that some products were on offer, so the comparison wasn’t entirely fair (or credible - while Wallop claimed a survey of more than 220 products last month showed 54% of products were cheaper or the same price elsewhere, a PwC survey for Poundland on 11 September claimed 90% were cheaper or joint cheapest at Poundland).
He also criticised the ’ X% free’ banners on products, the preponderance of ‘phantom brands’ and the retailer’s pack size engineering, contending that it undermined the validity of its claim to offer the “same amazing price since 1990”.
Err, no it doesn’t. The price IS the same, even if the pack size isn’t. Plus these are all perfectly legitimate commercial practices. Not that Poundland customers will see it that way (especially as no one from the retailer appeared on the programme to offer a defence). Then again, how many C4 viewers shop at Poundland?